How to assess an agency’s online portfolio

Three important questions to ask yourself when you’re assessing a digital agency’s portfolio of work.

Do the websites in their portfolio look different from each other?

Don’t just look at an agency’s website - look at five or six of their client websites. Do they all share a similar layout and style? Or is each one quite different?

If all the websites in an agency’s portfolio look the same, it suggests a lack of interest or effort in extracting and reflecting what’s unique about the brands they’re working with.  If you want to engage with your target audience in a meaningful way, your brand needs to feel original and authentic. A good agency should be able to make that happen.

Are their websites using template themes?

There’s lots of pre-designed templates available that any individual, designer and agency can use to build a website. They look clean and professional with nice built-in interactivity. They’re quick and easy to deploy. To be profitable, themes are designed to be universally applicable so that they can work for any brand (i.e. neutral colour themes and a standard layout).  

What if your brand is trying to differentiate itself? Is it not more effective to start with identifying what makes you unique and building an experience around that rather than figuring out how to adapt and repurpose an existing theme? When asked to create a digital experience quickly and cheaply using a template theme, we say no. Neither the result nor the process is rewarding for either party.

Are the internal pages as impressive as the homepage?

Often a website can have an impressive homepage but the same care and attention to detail isn’t applied to the pages that lead off it. A good agency will treat all key pages as relevant and necessary. This maintains a consistently thoughtful and visual  journey and experience for the user as they navigate through the website.

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